Helen Froggett, Business Development Director from The Accountancy Practice, shares her inspirational series of lifestyle tips and the positive impact that being in control of your own life can have on your business success. Getting the work-life balance right is a key part of The Accountancy Practice’s ethos.
To begin, Helen focuses on the necessity of making time for yourself.
It always seems a bit like a ‘new year’ to me, as we launch into September with children and grandchildren settling back into school. Such a good opportunity to make the most of opportunities to knuckle down to the business of life and it’s a good a time as any to consider our work-life balance and most importantly ‘putting the me back in time’. It’s easy to put everyone else’s needs before our own and making time for our own needs often takes a back seat. We’ve got tools for greater efficiency in every area of our lives which simply means we end up doing more. All the time. Never switching off.
Things have a habit of expanding to fill the space available for them. So now we have more opportunities for communication which is quick and ‘painless’ yet sometimes this can make us feel more cut off. It’s interesting how you can sense strong positive feelings when people report spending actually physical time with those they love. And the ‘aha’ feeling of ‘oh THIS is what life’s about’ surfaces. We need these things to recharge ourselves. Like batteries, we can’t simply be ‘on’ for ever. Even though we might feel like that’s expected.
I feel that the optimum ‘place’ emotionally is to be doing things we want to do every day, to be self determining. Is this utopia possible? Or is it simply a selfish desire? Sure there’s things we HAVE to do, things we OUGHT to do. But if you analyse them, perhaps many of them are things we needed or wanted at some point in our lives, for them to be there in the first place. A bit of re-framing can work wonders. Take your job; you need the money, so how can you make this feel like you need it to feel, to be living your joy, or something approaching it, every day. What can be adjusted to suit you better? Perhaps you’re in the wrong career? Always wanted to try something else? There’s your family, the needs of parents and children for example, but can we consider spending our time doing things we enjoy with and for them, rather than martyring ourselves on a regular basis?
We need a sense of prioritisation, an internal compass you could say, to know what to invite and accept into our lives. In simple terms, what to say yes and no to, if nothing else. But how can we prioritise when everyone’s making demands of you (let alone the things you want to get done FOR YOURSELF). So often it ends up being a matter of fire fighting the things (or people) which make the most noise. This can also turn your priorities upside down.
So deciding to take more control of life does wonders for our sense of well-being, anxiety levels drop and things start to flow more easily.
Here’s ten tips to help you finding the ME in TIME.
- What do YOU want out of your life? It’s easy to get caught up in everyone else’s demands, which surely start from a young age where we are dependent on the approval of others for our food and shelter and so ‘people pleasing’ is ingrained. If your needs and happiness are the lowest priority on your list, you are in danger of them being in the same place on everyone else’s.
- What (and WHO!) do you want more, and less of, in your life? Reflecting on this can be quite illuminating. We’ve all come across people who drain us. We are not obliged to have these people in our lives. They can adapt or we can adapt. Only one of those options are within your control.
- Our life is a series of NOWs. We’ve got to stop living in the past, reliving our hurts and successes, worrying about the future, and DO IT NOW! Start making little changes NOW. Google that thing you are interested in, find out how much those courses cost. There is no time like the present.
- Be the bold self you know you can be. More often. Remember that feeling when you pushed yourself out of your comfort zone and… it worked! When we are on our deathbeds, do we want to have regrets? Too late to have a go then! Now is the time to try. What’s the worst that can happen? We might have a bruised ego but at least we’ve tried something AND perhaps stumbled across something illuminating on the path. How often do new ideas and inventions rise out of the ashes of something which apparently ‘failed’?
- The simple pleasure of thinking NO and acting upon it! The people in your life will keep on taking what they need if you let them. It suits them. If you’ve never expressed your feelings (for fear of upsetting them) how are they to know? How you say it is a different matter of course, and requires some consideration. There are many different ways of saying no. And don’t assume that a ‘no’ is always going to upset someone. They will probably just move onto the next victim. However if it’s a ‘unique’ request that only you can fulfill, (and you want to do it) perhaps it’s a ‘no’ along the lines of ‘not right now’. Or discussing the request and perhaps doing an element which would help them. Perhaps the most important thing is to work out WHY you are saying yes to too much. And be honest with yourself. It might reveal other elements which are blocking your path.It’s about what YOU want. No one is going to live your life for you, or look out for you as well as you can do yourself. So as we’ve mentioned living your life…
- Where are you now? Have a go at your own life planning. Where on a scale of 1-10 would you put yourself now in terms of 10 being the feeling of living your best life. It’s more a sense than an absolute science. And it’s unique for everyone. But once you have your number, consider what it would take for you to feel you could score one point higher, two points higher. You get the idea. And then very carefully think about what you could do in baby steps. One small step is all it takes to get started. And that is when you need to consider including a friend to help support you on your journey, and start using lists in a manner which will aid and motivate, rather than increase the sense of overwhelm!So now you know Where you’re going and What you want to be doing more of, you need to organise yourself in a way that will help you get these things done and not let life carry you in it’s wake.
- List creation. I tend to make regular lists for each ‘project’ I am working on. No particular order, just brain dump. You can prioritise after they are facing you on the page. And once you’ve written your list, the most important thing is to sit somewhere quiet, and just wait for the things which you have overlooked to pop into your mind. I find that our ‘default’ brain kicks in, remembers the really important little details and it’s as if having got rid of the ‘big’ stuff, it can remind you of the little things which are surprisingly important.
- Where do you find your joy? Perhaps it’s being generous to others, looking for opportunities for random acts of kindness? Perhaps it’s being creative in some way. Make sure you make a list of the things that bring you joy and prioritise doing at least one of these things each week, or month, but ideally every day. Personal treats might include lighting some candles and just sitting staring at the flames for ten minutes in the morning or evening – your own personal meditation/reflection time. Or seeing the film you’ve seen advertised, and perhaps even going on your own to maximise the enjoyment – no one’s opinion to care about, just you, your popcorn and an indulgent couple of hours where you only have to do what pleases YOU! A long soak in a bath is a bit of a cliché but it’s surprisingly difficult to do this I’ve found. But if you can plan it in, it makes for a lovely focus for an evening – or even during the day – why not? A bit of decadence never did us any harm!
- Leave space in your life for YOU. Unstructured time. Laziness is seen as a negative trait. ‘Wasting Time’ is similar. I remember taking my three day old daughter to visit my mother. After gazing at her adoringly for a couple of minutes she admonished herself/anyone in the room with the all encompassing ‘babies are such time wasters!!’ Which pretty much sums up her approach to life. It’s hard to leave that conditioning behind. So I’ve had to work hard to allow myself time to be ME. For me, sitting in a swinging seat/hammock is MY me time. What’s yours?
Just sitting with no agenda (not dissimilar in some respects to meditation), avoiding the temptation of stimulation of a book, ipad, phone or magazine is quite liberating. Even just staring out the window ‘daydreaming’, walking with no particular destination in mind, people watching on a park bench. You might recognise this as part of the ‘mindful’ movement. In that precious time you’ve allocated to yourself, try not to spend it thinking about your to do list! Notice the detail, use your senses, be present in the moment. Largely frowned upon in our outcome led culture, where every second counts. It’s hard to allow ourselves time to do it BUT for those worried about ‘losing time’ or squandering it, I can say from personal experience that it is vital for our mental health and in that ‘space’ my best ideas, simple solutions, and seamless plans come to me when my mind is relatively uncluttered with external stimulation. All you’ve got to do then is start to action them, believing in your vision, believing in yourself.
- Multi tasking is over rated! Fully commit to everything you do. Try to focus fully on each thing you do during the day. Turn off your tabs, get away from distractions if possible. Get absorbed in whatever task you are doing. Whether it’s trying to write a report for a meeting, hanging out the washing, chatting with a friend (and really listening to them), enjoying your current favourite Netflix show, watching the butterflies and birds in your garden, eating a meal. Doing a few things at once means you don’t actually appreciate any of them properly. And your days can go past in a daze. Which you could argue, is the real waste. I’ve definitely been guilty of all of these things and strive on a daily basis to lead a life which works for me and the people I choose to share it with.
What are your tips for carving out time for yourself?
Do get in touch. Helen Froggett, The Accountancy Practice Helen@theaccountancypractice.com or 01763 257882